I have attended more weddings and pre-wedding parties (called hennas or milkas) in the past five months than I ever have back home in the states. I have heard I have a wedding tonight said in school more times in one month than I have ever heard in a year back home in the states. I have gotten more dressed up for these Arab weddings more than I have for any event back home. Women who were once modestly covered by the abaya and lehaf beautifully transform into these goddesses with very colorful makeup, shiny, bedazzled dresses, and extremely intricate updos (the videos linked are a very accurate representation of what is seen at these weddings). These particular pictures above are of one of my elder host sister’s weddings back in November. The entirely ceremony is obviously not similar to the Western, Christian weddings held in churches with receptions afterward, but rather Arab weddings are like all-girl reception parties (minus the dancing if the family is strictly Shi’a Muslim).
The entire wedding experience goes a little like this:
First, you enter the lobby, greet the family, and then go to the bathroom to remove the abaya and lehaf to reveal the lavish outfit underneath. Second, you greet more family and friends (everybody knows everybody or somebody knows someone who knows you in Oman because of the small population and tribal society!) while trying to reach your table and then you sit there for about an hour before the bride comes. In this intermediate phase, there’s primarily either dancing or more socializing. When the bride comes, the photographer rushes out and takes pictures of her walk down the aisle to the sofa at the other end of the room (as can be seen in the second picture). Once she sits there, more pictures with the family are taken and everyone darts to the food buffet. Typically, the weddings end at around eleven at night.